Boards do everything they can despite massive odds

Par Marcus Tabachnick

Loi 104 - Les écoles passerelles - réplique à la Cour suprême

The Quebec English School Boards Association and its nine member boards do everything we can to secure and increase access to English schools in the province.
There are major obstacles: unyielding and often irrational opposition from every party in the National Assembly, an unreceptive public, limited funds, other equally urgent educational priorities, to name but a few.
QESBA has chosen to keep access on the agenda without engaging public funds in court litigation at this time. QESBA and its member boards, up for election on Nov. 4, should always be ready to re-evaluate that position. But, they should do so with care.

As The Gazette notes in its Sept. 15 editorial ("Tyler strikes again"), Brent Tyler and other lawyers in private practice have admirably ensured that parents receive their due day in court. Those efforts are important, but they are only part of the access picture.
In 2005, QESBA, through its public pressure and intensive discussions with Department of Education officials, got more than 75 youngsters who were otherwise headed for refusals into English schools. The facts in those cases appear similar to those of Irfan Asghar Khan, whose refusal was overturned by an administrative tribunal last week.
In light of that decision, QESBA will now work to secure immediate adjustments to the treatment of outstanding cases. This job is best done out of court, through negotiation, advocacy and public pressure, when necessary.
Our improving relationship with the government department that processes English schooling requests, coupled with the tireless and effective efforts of our boards' admissions staffs also have delivered more children to English schools across Quebec each year.
Language legislation in Quebec is easy to scream at. It's tougher to change. Court action is one essential and legitimate tool in that effort.
There are others. QESBA doesn't discount any option, but its sole measure for success will be positive movement on access, not easy headlines.
Marcus Tabachnick is president of the Quebec English School Boards Association.

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